“The Bateman Modular Plant has become the benchmark against which others are measured,” claims Robert Abate, Bateman General Manager, Modular Plants. “Besides a continued dominance in the market, Bateman Engineering won special mention awards in 2005 from the Southern African Institute of Steel for its drill chip sampling plant at the Venetia Diamond Mine and the dense media separation (DMS) facility at Kimberley Mines.”
Since 1967 nearly 500 complete Bateman Modular Plants or sections of plants have been supplied to sites on land in about 30 countries and at sea, primarily to process diamonds, emeralds, coal, graphite, magnesite, andalusite, chromite and platinum.
According to Abate, Bateman Engineering handles on average 20 projects for new plants annually and, despite strong competition, the demand for its plants is growing steadily. While this is partially due to the growth in the market for modular plants generally, as the benefits of the concept become realised more widely, a large proportion of sales go to old customers who really appreciate the value that Bateman Modular Plants bring to their operations.
“While our market leadership is based on proven concepts that provide competitive, efficient and cost-effective processing,” states Abate, “a strong effort is made to update our product range regularly with innovations and new designs. The favourable market reception to our recent improvements is gratifying.”
THE BATEMAN MEGA MODULES
“To meet the quest for increased processing throughput, we introduced the Bateman Mega range of modules a few years ago and have already supplied 15 modules capable of processing up to 200 t/h of feed per module. In essence, although the maximum size of a modular plant is limited by transport capacities and regulations, we can achieve the high tonnage throughputs of large permanent plants by installing multiple Mega modules in parallel to boost output,” explains Abate. “Mega modules with even greater capacities are now on our drawing boards.
“The new Mega units incorporate the latest innovations in DMS plant design resulting in improved diamond recovery efficiencies, ferrosilicon recovery and ease of operation and maintenance. Additionally, the twin-stream operation of these units enables servicing while maintaining 50% of the production throughput.” A good example of a Mega plant application is the circuit comprising two 200 t/h DMS modules that Bateman Engineering installed this year to replace the old cones plant recovering diamonds from the kimberlite feed at De Beer’s Cullinan Mine near Tshwane (formerly Pretoria). The prime motivation for the project was newer technology that would recover diamonds more efficiently and reduce running costs significantly, primarily as the team required to operate the new plant would be far smaller. Disruption of production at the plant too was a major consideration, resulting in the selection of a replacement plant in the shape of two modules to be installed sequentially, maintaining a portion of production while first the one and then the other was installed and commissioned. The Mega plant installed for Miba in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2005 has two-stream frontend ore preparation and primary and secondary crushing circuits feeding a 200 t/h DMS Mega module. Miba, the most prominent diamond miner in the DRC, has been doing business with Bateman Engineering for almost 30 years. Aside from individual items of equipment such as roller-supported scrubbers, vibrating screens and bucket elevators supplied by Bateman Engineering over the years, this is the second 400 t/h Bateman Engineering plant to be acquired by Miba. Miba’s new NLK2 plant, weighing 800 t, was transported in 90 DZ rail wagons from the Kazerne rail siding in South Africa, through Zimbabwe and Zambia, to the Mwene-Ditu mine siding in the DRC, some 100 km from the Miba mine at Mbujimayi. The pre-tested Mega DMS modules alone weighed 130 t. The commissioning was completed in only two-anda- half weeks. The largest modular installation supplied to date by Bateman Engineering is the 450 t/h plant comprising three 150 t/h DMS modules to process diamondiferous material at De Beers’ New Treatment Plant (NTP) at Kimberley Mines in the Northern Cape. The plant comprises three new Mega 150 t/h DMS fines modules with 70 t feed hoppers. Modifications were also made to the conveyor systems to divert material to the DMS modules, and provision made for ancillary facilities such as pumping of process water to the new DMS modules, the electrical supply, the motor control centre and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) facilities, as well as all earthworks and civil construction. The largest diamond recovery plant supplied to a private company to date comprises a 350 t/h plant including a 200 t/h Mega DMS module and a 9 tier containerised X-ray and grease recovery plant supplied to HC van Wyk Diamante at Holpan, 90 km from Kimberley. A second containerised grease recovery plant was supplied to HC van Wyk’s operation at Wouterspan. Orders are currently being processed for two more Mega DMS modules. The first is for a project to expand the processing capacity at Debswana Diamond Company’s Damtshaa Mine near Orapa in Botswana. The second is for Namdeb to upgrade an existing diamond treatment facility at Oranjemund No. 3 plant on the west coast of Namibia to re-treat tailings dump material. DIAMOND RECOVERY MODULES “The concept of providing containerised diamond recovery modules has been well received by our clients,” reveals Abate. By combining grease and X-ray recovery circuits in one plant we improve the efficiency of small diamond recovery and permit the number of X-ray units to be reduced, lowering the capital cost. Our grease belt diamond recovery modules are hand-off automated systems and typically recover 98% of the diamonds in the concentrate, depending on the diamond characteristics.” The modules are usually custom fit into containers. This facilitates transport to site, but also provides secure on-site housing. In the containers, the working space is designed for processing needs and customised containers are used to enhance the ergonomics in highcapacity plants. Thermal insulation is applied to maintain comfortable working conditions in the containers, even with outside temperatures ranging from well below freezing to above 40OC. “Bateman Engineering supplied what we believe was the first containerised module with both grease belt and X-ray recovery circuits in the diamond mining industry to Super Stone Mining (Pty) Ltd near Kimberley just two years ago.” claims Abate. “The improved technology made possible the recovery of diamonds in the old kimberlite dumps deposited in the area over the past 80 years.” According to the client, a very important factor in the decision to install this system was also its cost. “With low capital and operating cost, containerised grease-belt systems are catching on,” says Abate. “In the past few months we have supplied such systems to two clients who both have bought plants from us before. Both projects were fulfilled within about six months of receipt of the orders. “The first was a fully automated, hands-off final diamond recovery plant processing 20 t/h of concentrate from a pan concentrator and a DMS circuit at Sonop Delverye, between Christiana and Bloemhof in the Northwest Province of South Africa. The plant comprises three conventional grease belts, the fines belt, with a capacity of 4 t/h, treating a concentrate feed of 1 mm to 6 m in size, the middlings belt handling 6 t/h of a feed between 6 mm and 12 mm and the coarse belt handling 10 t/h of feeds of between 12 mm and 16 mm and 16 mm to 30 mm. “The second plant was for HC van Wyk, mentioned earlier, comprising a fines grease belt to treat concentrate less than 12 mm in size and a coarse grease belt for concentrate between 12 and 30 mm in size.” TRADITIONAL BUSINESS In addition to the demand for plants that embody Bateman Engineering’s newer concepts, the traditional business activity remains at a high level, with a good demand for most of the standard pre-designed DMS modules ranging from 1 t/h to 200 t/h to process gravel feeds between -30 mm and +1 mm in size. In addition to South Africa, countries in which business has been conducted recently include Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, DRC, Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Canada and Russia. A few typical examples are given below. “The drill-chip processing plant for Venetia Diamond Mine near Mussina in Limpopo, comprises liberation, 10 t/h DMS concentration and recovery modules, the latter being housed in seven containers,” says Abate. A front-end feed preparation plant was also installed to upgrade a tantalite-processing plant in Mozambique. A modular diamond recovery plant installed at an alluvial operation in north-eastern Yakutia’s permafrost region is probably the nearest diamond processing plant to the North Pole. This comprises a 50 t/h DMS module and containerised recovery plant. The 1 t/h DMS supplied to Catoca Mine is being used for laboratory and exploration work. It was supplied off-theshelf and dispatched within two weeks as soon as all the export and import formalities had been completed. Catoca operates several purpose designed Bateman Engineering DMS plants in the Lunda Sul Province of Angola. A mobile prospecting plant comprising a 50 t/h frontend scrubbing section, a 10 t/h DMS module and a containerised X-ray recovery module was supplied to a remote location in central Venezuela. A plant comprising a 50 t/h DMS and a three-tier X-ray recovery module was erected and commissioned for Yahalom Mining in the Lunda Norte Province of Angola. The front-end circuit was also refurbished. Another 50 t/h DMS module was supplied to DS Corns, an independent diamond producer near Kimberley, to recover alluvial diamonds. SUPPORT SERVICES Services for users of Bateman Modular Plants are comprehensive and aimed at keeping their plants running reliably and productively. First, a quality assurance is provided by Bateman Engineering’s quality management system, which is certified ISO 9001:2000 compliant for project management, engineering, procurement and construction management on both capital projects and modular plants. Secondly, ongoing technical support is provided in the form of erection supervision, commissioning and operator training, on-site checking of the factory calibration by Bateman Engineering’s field personnel and consulting on sampling, operation, maintenance, health, safety and security. With regard to spares and consumables for all modular plants, Bateman Engineering effectively operates as a trading house, dispatching consignments worldwide within 48 hours. An essential service component is the provision of density tracers, a standard and inexpensive measurement technique to check on recovery efficiencies and permit setting up and tuning. These consist of specially formulated epoxy resins in the form of cubes, prisms and rhomboids, with sizes and densities in the ranges of the precious stones being processed. They are robust, to ensure many passes through a plant, and recovery from the host ore using visual or magnetic means is easy. BUSINESS STRATEGY “Our success in the market place can be attributed to the strategies we have adopted to provide cost-effective plants that are easy to erect, commission and operate reliably on remote sites with little or no infrastructure,” explains Abate. “First, through pre-assembly and extensive testing of all structures, equipment, piping and electrics, before delivery to site, we eliminate on-site erection difficulties and reduce overall erection and commissioning time. Often on-site work can even be done by relatively unskilled personnel under the direction of one of our engineers. “Secondly, our plants are constructed in well-equipped yards by experienced engineering teams, reducing construction time and cost and enhancing the quality and reliability of the equipment. “The core concept, of course, is that we design the components of plants so they can be transported, either as complete modules or if too large, as dismantled sections that can be easily moved and re-erected. “The concept has, however, further benefits. Modular plants can be configured easily to specific processing requirements, doubled up to increase capacity, upgraded on site to altered circumstances and even adapted to new ones. This, and the possibility of easy relocation to other sites, means that Bateman Modular Plants have a good resale value, to the extent that we even offer buyback options on our plants,” states Abate. Bateman Engineering also keeps overhead costs down by focussing on its core skills, contracting out those tasks that can be accomplished by others. An in-house team of about 30 engineers and draughtsmen concentrate on the design, engineering and improvement of the Bateman Modular Plants’ range of products and the construction of the plants is carried out in a few independent nearby workshops. While these workshops compete and keep construction costs down, their repeat work over the years has established a familiarity with Bateman Engineering’s procedures and requirements necessary to produce onspecification quality products that operate reliably. Project managers coordinate the design, engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning activities. Individual in-house project teams are kept lean, typically with a project manager, an engineer and the required technical personnel only. Components that work reliably and effectively are crucial, particularly on remote sites. Bateman Engineering’s experience in sourcing the appropriate services and equipment has enabled it to establish a list of loyal suppliers and vendors that can be relied on to deliver quality products on time. This bond is often enhanced through strategic alliances. Typical products and services sourced from vendors include vibrating equipment, X-ray recovery units, magnetic separators, cyclones and separators, crushers and conveyors, erection and fabrication, civil work and electrical contracting, piping, valves, pumps, motors, instrumentation, lighting, handrails and flooring to shipping and freight handling. According to Abate, every effort is thus made during projects providing Bateman Modular Plants to integrate the competencies of Bateman Engineering, the vendors and the client. “Although we have been in this business for a long time, our continued success stems from an acute sensitivity to our customers’ evolving needs,” concludes Abate.